Summer is here and our native animals are definitely on the move. Accidents happen, especially in cars. If you are involved in an accident with one of our native animals, this week's blog will give you a little guidance about what to do and hopefully keep you safe while doing it.
If you hit a native animal, or find an injured native animal, don't just drive off. That animal needs your help. Too many animals suffer a long and painful death because people are either scared; or just don't know what to do. First and foremost, DON'T PANIC. The outcome of this situation relies on you keeping a level head.
Your first priority is to find somewhere safe to park.
- YOUR safety is paramount. Don't go running across the road into oncoming traffic, no animal is worth your life.
- Check both ways before crossing the road (a little elementary, but people can be careless when they panic). Remember, you're there to help the animal, not become a road statistic yourself.
- Is the animal actually injured, or just stunned?
- If you ascertain that the animal is injured, use a blanket or a towel to cover the animal's head. Don't worry about suffocating the animal, if you can breathe through it they can too. Covering the head keeps the animal calm and makes sure they can't see where you are to bite you. The animal isn't being nasty. Under normal circumstances they aren't used to being handled by people and these aren't normal circumstances. This animal is now injured, scared, in pain, and being picked up by a bigger animal (namely, you).
- If the animal is bleeding or seriously injured, use compression to stop bleeding. Yep, this is one of those occasions where you get to use your First Aid training. Hopefully, you'll have someone else with you, so you can keep pressure on the wound while your friend drives you to the nearest vet ASAP. So far, no vet has charged me a fee for dropping off an injured native animal at their surgery (and no, I haven't run any over, I go out on rescues).
- If the animal is not bleeding but is injured, ring your local native animal rescue.
- It is important to keep them dark and warm to help prevent them from going into shock.
- DO NOT FEED THEM! Only give them water if they are visibly distressed.
Hopefully I've given you something to think about and the knowledge to provide help if it's needed. Below, I've provided a few links to Australian animal welfare organisations. I can't list them all, so I encourage you to look up the contact details of similar organisations in your own area and familiarise yourself with their advice.
This week, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I can't answer these questions for you, because your answers will be unique to you. How well do you know your town or city? Sure, you know where the supermarket, coffee shop, gym and book shop are; but what about emergency exits and supply points?
Every community has some sort of natural disaster it must be wary of. The threat could be bushfire, flood, tsunami, or even pyroclastic flow from a nearby volcano. If an evacuation order were issued where you live, how long would it take you to get to safety? Does your town have an evacuation point and do you know how to get there? Would following the major arterial roads be a good idea, or would those roads quickly become gridlocked by other fleeing citizens? Do you have an alternate route planned?
Do you have a Bug Out Bag (a bag containing enough clothing and other personal supplies to get you through 3 days)? You should also include a First-Aid kit, a torch, a pocket sized radio, spare batteries, and a book. Do you take any prescription medications? If so, you must keep a grab-bag of your essential medications with your Bug Out Bag. Is your Bug Out Bag kept in an area of your home that you can quickly get to, or is it buried at the back of your wardrobe, underneath all your old ski gear? Remember, in an evacuation, seconds count.
Not only do you need a Bug Out Bag, so does everyone else in your home. Your spouse/partner should be able to pack their own bag, but you'll have to pack for your kids. You don't want to get to the evacuation point and find their bags are full toys and comics.
What about food and water? Do you have a milk crate or two of non-perishable food items stored next to your Bug Out Bag? What about water? You'll need enough for drinking and cooking (if your non-perishable food is dehydrated). You should take enough food and water to get you through 72 hours, maybe longer (hopefully the evacuation will only be for 24 hours). Again, you'll need to increase that amount to accommodate everyone in your group. If you have to evacuate, it's better to rely on your own resourcefulness, instead of hoping someone else will care for you.
Do you have pets? What is your plan if you have to evacuate? Will you take them with you, or leave them behind? If you are going to take them with you; you must take food and other supplies for them too.
The food and water reserves will need to be rotated on a regular basis to make sure it doesn't go out of date so try and buy food that you would normally eat anyway, that way rotating food stock will not cause you any inconvenience.
Hopefully I have given you something to think about. It is likely the emergency services in your local area will have a website where they will post advice relating to current issues in your area. It is likely they will provide you with a comprehensive list of items you should pack.
Not only is Mother Nature beautiful, she can be harsh and unforgiving. Before you venture out of the house for a day in the countryside or a day at the beach; please check the weather forecast before leaving the house. If high temperatures or storms are predicted for your area, please modify your plans accordingly.
Weather extremes don't necessarily mean you have to cancel your entire day, merely adjust your day to suit the conditions. If it's going to be hot, wear a hat and sunscreen and take 3-4 litres of water per person. Stay well hydrated; actually drink the water you brought with you. If you have a headache, feel like you've been run over by a truck and your urine is dark in colour, you are severely dehydrated. Get out of the sun and start drinking water. Stay out of the sun as much as possible and watch out for your mates. In hot conditions, heat stress and sun stroke hit people very quickly.
Pay attention to bush fire warnings. If the current risk level in your area is SEVERE, EXTREME or CATESTROPHIC; don't go on a long hike into the bush to your favourite picnic area. If a fire does break out, you don't want several miles of bush between yourself and safety. Find some other activity to do for the day, or a different location to have your picnic. The Rural Fire Brigade has better things to do with their time than risk their lives searching for people who willingly wander into the lion's den.
People no longer show respect for the beach and the ocean. When I was a child, people would watch the water for signs of a rip or other adverse conditions before getting in for a swim. Nowadays, they jump in without a care in the world, believing it to be a well maintained ride at a water-themed tourist attraction. It's not. If you don't have enough experience to read the conditions, ask the lifeguard on duty. They'd rather answer questions than drag bodies out of the water. One last thing about the beach; please swim between the flags. The lifeguards know that section of beach is safe for swimming. Swimming at an unpatrolled beach is dangerous. If you get in trouble out there, you are on your own.
If it looks like storms (with strong winds, hail or lightning), make sure you don't venture too far from the house. Or better still, stay home. Lightning strikes and flash flooding are guaranteed to ruin anybody's picnic.
Summer's already here, so are the storms and the threat of bushfire. Play safe, look out for your mates and don't become a statistic.